|Pub: Aksys Games|
|Release: November 6, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Cole Smith
In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors you must evacuate a group of nine people from a doomed cruise ship to avert complete disaster, and death. You'll have to navigate unique, interesting, and deadly obstacles and solve puzzles to accomplish your mission. The strange thing is that there is no time limit, even though it's suggested in the title. Even stranger is the fact that it doesn't matter. Everything about this game works well as is. The average gamer won't need more than nine hours to complete this game anyway, but with a multitude of different paths to choose resulting in six different endings, there's lot of reasons to go back and board this sinking ship.
I do like this game, but before you run out and buy it there are a few things you will want to know. It's text heavy, but in this case it's a great thing. The story is captivating, and it's not gilded with indulgent prose. It stays on track with poignant descriptions of scenes, character development, dialogue, and comic relief. This is an interactive novel with no crappy voiceovers to distract and detract you from the experience. Don't expect a lot of animation or graphic depictions of blood and gore. Your mind will fill in the gruesome bits much more effectively. Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (from this point referred to as simply 999) is designed to ignite your imagination, something games don't do enough. So don't worry about the text, because if you're reading this then you've already passed the test. I promise the game is more interesting than this review. 999 is an event you don't want to miss.
999 is an adventure game in the point-and-click tradition, but it goes much deeper than simply wandering around collecting items from a room. I don't mean the game is more complex, just deeper in terms of context. The story does suffer from some bad translation, but it never fails to keep you riveted with more twists and turns than a snake in a blender. The narrative will give you insight into each character's personality and psyche. The relationships you develop with these characters are integral to the gameplay. You don't want these people to die, and that fear of loss is what motivates you to get these nine people through all of the nine doors within nine hours.
Let's not mince words; the premise of 999 is a Saw rip-off. But that's not a negative comment because 999 assimilates this concept to great effect. This has to be the best adventure game I have ever played on a handheld, and I would still be impressed if this were available exclusively on the PC. Try as I might, I could not find a significant flaw anywhere in this game. Some may argue that the heavy use of text is an easy method of avoiding costly production values, but there's just too much information to be handed over to fully-voiced characters. The fact is all elements of this game gel perfectly, with nothing appearing out of place.
Aboard a cruise ship, nine people find themselves unwilling participants in a deadly game presided over by a masked figure known as Zero. These captives must make it through nine marked doors before the ship sinks. But there are rules to follow, with deadly results for breaching them. Each captive is outfitted with a numbered, digital watch that figures into many numerical puzzles, in addition to acting as a monitor. The watch will trigger a bomb embedded into the stomachs of the nine people. Talk about pressure.
There are sixteen escape rooms, thirty-two puzzles, and nine numbered doors to pass through, but you don't have to enter them in sequence. Rooms are filled with objects you will need to help solve a variety of puzzles. They are varied, with many reminiscent of mini-games, although most puzzles involve forms of numerology. I would say "math," but it may scare some players away. You'll have to be mindful of the number each character represents, as only certain combinations will be allowed through the doors. It's a process of adding digits together to arrive at a single-digit root, such as adding five and seven for a total of twelve, then adding the digits one and two to arrive at three.